Excerpted from Double Duty: The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins, from Pregnancy through the School Years (2nd Edition) by Christina Baglivi Tinglof Copyright © 2009 by Christina Baglivi Tinglof. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Importance of Fluids
Not only is getting enough food important for a woman expecting twins, so is drinking enough fluids. Drinking at least eight glasses of liquid a day eases constipation and reduces the risk of a urinary tract infection. Your body needs the extra fluid to help transport nutrients to your babies, build cells, and remove waste from both your system and the babies’. The added fluid builds additional blood, amniotic fluid, and tissue.
Cut out the Caffeine
Through the years, women have heard conflicting news reports on whether caffeine will increase their chances of miscarriage. During 2008, however, evidence has come to light strongly suggesting that cutting out the stimulant altogether during pregnancy is a good idea. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research found that women who consumed about 200 milligrams of caffeine (that’s about two cups of coffee) a day doubled their risk of having a miscarriage. Furthermore, even women who consumed less than 200 milligrams a day had a 40 percent chance of miscarriage. Although some say more research needs to be done, err on the side of caution and try a cup of herbal tea. (I drank a cup of hot water in the morning. Not quite the same, but it gave me the illusion of that earthy cup of joe.)
The dangers of smoking have been known for years, but the hazards of tobacco are magnified even more during pregnancy. Not only does smoking while pregnant put your life at risk by increasing your chances for heart disease and cancer, but it also has been associated with low birth weight, placenta previa, miscarriages, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and even preterm labor. Another taboo to avoid during pregnancy is alcohol. Women who drink regularly during pregnancy often have children with fetal alcohol syndrome, a serious condition that includes mental retardation, growth deficiencies, and abnormalities. Various conflicting reports on how much alcohol during pregnancy is safe are inconclusive—so once again, a pregnant mom should err on the side of caution and omit alcohol completely from her lifestyle. And of course, the use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are potential time bombs to a pregnant woman. Avoid them at all costs.
Tips for Increasing Chances of a Healthy Pregnancy
- Diet. Follow a healthy diet high in calcium, iron, folic acid, and especially protein. Vary your food consumption to be sure that you’re getting a variety of nutrients, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Shoot for a 40 to 45 pound weight gain—gaining the majority of weight by Week 28. And don’t forget—protein, protein, protein. The more the better. So think meat, chicken, fish, beans, and dairy.
- Rest. Don’t wait until your doctor puts you on mandatory bed rest—rest often by either napping frequently or putting your feet up for 30 minutes at least three times a day.
- Prenatal care. Never miss a doctor’s appointment. Read everything you can on multiple pregnancies. Ask questions and discuss your concerns with your physician.
- Fluids. Drink, drink, drink, and then drink more (water, juice, and milk).
- Precautions. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted to rest or starving to eat. Use your common sense when it comes to caring for your body. Avoid alcohol, don’t smoke or take any kind of drugs, and always wear your seat belt while driving. To avoid unnecessary radiation, sit at least 10 feet from the television and stay away from microwave ovens that are in use.
- Body language. No one knows the patient better than you. Learn to listen to your body and promptly respond to its needs.
One Final Thought
Being pregnant with twins takes a lot of work and diligence on your part to ensure a healthy outcome, but it’s just nature’s way of mentally preparing you for what lies ahead. After the birth of your twins, you’ll soon realize that pregnancy was the easy part.